DNAExplain Blog to be Preserved for Future Generations in the Library of Congress

Yes, indeed, this is definitely a red-letter event!!!

Not only is having my blog archived in the Library of Congress an incredible honor, but it solves a long-standing problem. Let’s start at the beginning.

In the Beginning…

I started this blog, www.dna-explained.com, also www.dnaexplain.com, for three primary reasons:

  • To educate the public, specifically genetic genealogists, about effectively using DNA for genealogy.
  • To share my own and other relevant vendor and non-vendor research and advancements in the field.
  • To provide a timeline and cumulative progressive history of this emerging field, recorded as it occurred. Essentially an industry diary.

My first blog article was published in July of 2012. The direct-to-consumer genetics industry was about 12 years old at that time. Today, the industry is roughly 23 years old and my blog is approaching its 11th anniversary. I’ve covered nearly half of the life of the genetic genealogy industry.

I recently crossed the threshold of 1600 published articles which equates to about 2.5 articles each week. Those articles total over 4 million words, or more than 15,000 pages of text, plus 20,000 images. That’s about half the size of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. That level of writing and publishing is almost a full-time job, alone, without anything else. Yet, I need to perform the research and do the work to create the content of each article. Not to mention the rest of my activities that pay the bills.

Anyone who writes, specifically, those who write to publish regularly, such as a blog, know that blogging isn’t exactly easy and requires an incredible amount of investmented time. The majority of blogs are abandoned shortly after creation. I fully understand why. You have to love both the process of writing and the subject – and be willing to contribute. Not to mention monitoring and approving the more than 50,000 comments and such.

As you know, this blog is free. I don’t charge for a subscription. I don’t accept paid content, guest articles or write articles for pay. I do have affiliate links at the bottom, but consider those cumulative purchases equivalent to buying me a cup of coffee. (Thank you to those who purchase through those links.)

There is some recurring financial investment in blogging too, but the biggest commitment, by far, is time. Hours and days that can’t be spent elsewhere, like on genealogy, for example – which leads me to my 52 Ancestors articles.

52 Ancestors

Of those slightly more than 1600 articles, 465 are in my 52 Ancestors series. I’m “blaming,” or crediting, Amy Johnson Crow for this, because in January of 2014, she challenged genealogists to write something about one ancestor a week and share or publish it someplace, somehow. I really liked that idea, and came to discover that focusing on one ancestor at a time, not a couple, and not their parents or children, allowed me to live with them for a bit and view their life through their eyes alone. So many times we know very little about our ancestor’s lives, and even less about the women. Interweaving Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA results and matches, relationships and the history of what was happening around them provides an invaluable tool to connect with their lives.

I wasn’t sure I could maintain that one article per week pace, but I wanted to try. The 52 Ancestors challenge was just for one year, right? I could stop anytime, right? But how would I share? I didn’t really think any of you would be interested in MY ancestors, so I very nearly didn’t publish these stories on my blog. I’m INCREDIBLY glad that I did, because I use both genealogy and genetic tools at multiple vendors to confirm those ancestors, to find and identify their descendants, and to break though next-generation brick walls. Plus, I’ve discovered innumerable wonderful cousins!

Having committed, I jumped into 52 Ancestors with both feet and immediately addressed a very long-standing mystery about my father’s missing son. What I didn’t expect to happen was for you, my readers, to help solve it, but you did!!! Two weeks later, Lee was identified, had a name and a history! Wow we were off and running at breakneck speed. To this day, the 52 Ancestors articles remain some of my favorites, along with the process of bringing those ancestors back to life, even if just through words.

Sometimes I don’t write about ancestors specifically, but memorable events in our lifetimes that we’ve shared, like the 1969 moon landing, Y2K and more recently, the anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Don’t you wish someone had written or journaled about contemporary milestones in our ancestor’s lives? What I wouldn’t give for that!

Preservation and Perpetuity

One of the reasons I write about my ancestors and genetic genealogy more broadly is because I very much want to share with other researchers, now and in the future.

In some cases, I’m the contributor, but often others contribute invaluable information to me. I firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships.

My goal is twofold:

  • To educate others and share methodologies so they can find and confirm their ancestors.
  • To complete the painting of my ancestor’s lives, or as much as I can in my lifetime.

Both of these are foundations upon which others can build.

A few years ago, I began to be concerned with preservation in perpetuity. How might I preserve those stories and the rest of my blog? I realize that in time, the technical aspects of my blog articles will be dated, but the educational basics remain firm. Better research methodologies will be developed. New information, both paper trail and genetic, will, hopefully, be unearthed about my ancestors, but I want the information I’ve provided to remain accessible over time.

I’ve been a technologist long enough to know that nothing is forever. Web sites disappear every day. The Internet Archive is wonderful, but it too may go poof, not to mention that you need to know the website url to access the archived website.

I reached out to WordPress, my blogging platform a few years ago. I asked if I could pay in advance for a “permanent” website, but they said that after payment stopped for the domain name and my subscription for the “non-free” platform, that my articles would revert to a free WordPress site “forever.” That means the url would change. Of course, none of the original links would work, and its value would be much dimished given that the articles would not appear in search engines. Furthermore, “forever” in technology days could be very short indeed.

Resources like FamilySearch aren’t meant for publications like my blog, and neither is WikiTree, especially “someday” after the blog link is no longer valid. I’ve posted links to articles on my blog on the ancestors’ profiles at WikiTree and in my personal trees at MyHeritage and Ancestry, but once the link is gone, effectively, so is the information.

I could copy the articles to word/pdf documents and attach those files to the trees, but we really don’t know what will and will not have longevity in today’s technical genealogical environment. Plus, I don’t want my articles behind a paywall anyplace, especially since I’ve made them available for free.

However, the Library of Congress has now solved that quandary for me and I’m both elated and honored.

The Invitation  

In the crazy days leading up to RootsTech, a gem of an email landed in my inbox. It was supposedly the Library of Congress (LOC) requesting to archive this blog and make this website available for all perpetuity as part of a collection of historically and culturally significant websites designated for preservation.

That’s quite a compliment.

I wasn’t quite sure I believed it. In fact, I was pretty sure that I didn’t.

Of course, the first thing I thought was that these were really brilliant scammers.

I contacted the LOC and discovered that this email was, indeed, genuine. I was both shocked and humbled.

To Whom It May Concern:

The United States Library of Congress requests permission to include your website in the Local History and Genealogy Web Archive, which is part of a larger collection of historically and culturally significant websites that have been designated for preservation. The following URL has been selected for archiving: https://dna-explained.com/.

The Library hopes that you share its vision of preserving digital content and making it available to current and future generations of researchers. As the internet has become an increasingly important and influential part of our lives, we believe the historical record would be incomplete if websites like yours are not preserved and made a part of it. We also believe that expanding access to the Library’s collections is one of the best ways we can increase opportunities for education and scholarship around the world. Please provide the Library with permission to archive your website and provide public access to archived versions of your website by filling out the form available here: <link redacted.>

With your permission, the Library of Congress or its agent will engage in the collection of content from your website at regular intervals over time. In order to properly archive the above URL, we may archive other portions of the website and public content that your page links to on third party sites such as social media platforms. In addition to the aforementioned collection, archived content from your website may be added to other relevant collections in the future. This content would be available to researchers only at Library facilities or by special arrangement, unless you additionally grant the Library permission for the content to become more broadly available through hosting on the Library’s public website, which would be done no sooner than one year after it was collected. For more information on the web archiving process, please read our frequently asked questions.

We encourage you to learn more about the Library’s Web Archiving program and explore our collections to see examples of how we archive websites. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations concerning the archiving of your website, please email the Library’s Web Archiving Team at webcapture@loc.gov.

Thank you.

Library of Congress Web Archiving Team

It would be an understatement to say I was incredibly excited. There were no balloons or jubilant noisemakers though, and the cats were unimpressed as I clicked and agreed for my collective body of work to succeed me “forever.” Who knew milestones like this were so quiet, with only me winking to Mom and Dad who I’m positive were watching and silently cheering!

Here’s the confirmation of my acceptance.

So, in another hundred years, just like I can search for, say, Estes photos from a century or more ago at the Library of Congress, people living four or five generations in the future will be able to search for and read about the very early days of genetic genealogy and find those ancestor stories. They will also be able to learn something about the time in which we live today.

I can stop worrying about more than a decade’s worth of work disappearing after I join my ancestors, hopefully to obtain the answers that have eluded me here.

I’m incredibly, incredibly humbled and grateful to the Library of Congress for this amazing opportunity to contribute to our collective heritage. Thanks to each and every one of you for joining me on our journey into the history books.


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68 thoughts on “DNAExplain Blog to be Preserved for Future Generations in the Library of Congress

    • Thank you. I’m still in shock. You have contributed to a great many and I could not have done them without you and cousin Tom.

  1. Dear Roberta,

    wow, what a news! And I have to say, a good decision, because there simple is no easier to understand genetic genealogy guide and no more heartworming 52 ancestor blog articles than yours!
    I am so grateful for having contributed to some of them!

    Take care!

  2. Dear Roberta,
    Not only have your DNA articles been written in a way that is easy to understand and quite useful as examples wse can follow but I am constantly amazed at the depth and breadth of each of your 52 week ancestor articles. How DO you find the time?!?
    Congratuations of being accepted by LOC. I can’t think of anyone more deserving!

  3. A big CONGRATULATIONS !! It couldn’t have happened to a better teacher. I know only because of your teaching could I give my husband a gift of having known 2 wonderful birth brothers. Forever grateful, and now others can always learn to do the same !

  4. Congratulations!! I have been a fan since watching a webinar that you presented, I don’t remember which one or when, and a reader of your blog since I found out there was one. Thank you.

  5. Awesome news! Congratulations. You gave me great advice a long time ago about testing on my brother’s Y, and it was spot on. I haven’t forgotten. The Y chromosome belonging to my blond brother turned out to have come from East Asia, and not Germany. Beth S.

  6. Congratulations Roberta! You really do deserve this recognition if anyone does. Your commitments to science, research, technology, and time consumed in writing/posting your articles both inspire and amaze me. As one who researched, wrote and published a niche-market (solo travel) newsletter from 1989 to 1917, I have been dismayed to note how quickly my website disappeared into oblivion. I am still hopeful of finding a way to preserve my efforts, not only the print and internet-ready versions but also the now-defunct software used to prepare my news. A big hug to you!

  7. You are receiving well-deserved recognition. Congratulations! And many thanks for all you do for all of us researching our families!

  8. Congratulations, Roberta. Well deserved!!! I have the same issue – how do I preserve forever or 100 years whichever is later) my 17 years of work (over 16,000 posts) on Genea-Musings? I have a FOREVER account and space, but it can only be accessed by selected people (who have shown no interest so far!). I have been adding genealogy sketch notes and sources to FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for my 52 Ancestors articles, as well as probate transcriptions as notes. I created a series of reports for my ancestral and descendants trees back in 2012 and put them on Scribd for free access. I’m wondering about donating similar reports to FamilySearch Books.

    I wonder if Library of Congress takes applications or requests to do what they’re doing for you.

    Keep up the good work! Cousin Randy at http://www.geneamusings.com

  9. Congratulations, Roberta! This recognition is very much deserved! We love your blog, and have especially enjoyed the 52 week ancestors series. I learned about your website some years ago from “cousin” Carolyn Anderson Henca. Our line of Andersons is from the Four Anderson Brothers of Augusta County, Virginia written about by Chalkley about the Borden and Beverly Land Grant Settlements near Staunton, VA in the 1700s. Some of your family appear to be close by in VA.

  10. This is thrilling for you, Roberta, and for genealogists everywhere! So exciting and what an honor.

  11. Congratulations! I appreciate your unique ability to explain a complex subject such as DNA. You are also a gifted storyteller. Stephen King said “In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work…”. Reading your blog has certainly enriched my life. It is wonderful that your work is being preserved to enrich the lives of future generations.

  12. Roberta, this is a WOW moment in your blog life and your whole life. Congratulations and savour the moment. Go out and fly a balloon or a kite with well done on it. I for one have learned so much from your blog and enjoyed your way of writing. I recommend it often. You make genetics fun and easier to understand.
    Thankyou for your commitment and time and sense of humour.
    Coralie Smith, Motueka, New Zealand

  13. I am so proud of all your amazing accomplishments – And for your blogs, projects, book(s), sharing and teachings. I’m one of your biggest fans, and love that you share your journey with us, WOW The Library of Congress!!!

  14. Roberta, this is so very well deserved. From the time I began my genetic genealogy journey, I’ve learned so much from your blog. Moreover, I’ve come to respect your opinions and insight. Congratulations!

  15. Well done, Roberta! The LOC has recognized what many of us actively working and teaching in the field have also acknowledged and celebrated for some time: your incredible, high-quality work, which addresses so much of what we deal with, on a daily basis. I just signed an agreement to teach a class on mtDNA next January for my local public library. The first thing I listed as recommended reading is your 5-part article series on mtDNA. Thank you for being there for all of us, you have made an incredible difference. Now if you could just get that article series dropped into a book that we could encourage our libraries and students to purchase, we would be ever more grateful, LOL! Yep, I know these things are moving targets. Glad that the LOC will be updating the content periodically.

  16. Many congratulations Roberta ! Thank you for sharing your ups and downs and for teaching us so much along the way.

  17. Roberta, I have been following your blog for a long time & recommend to others- a big Wow – Congratulations to you!!!

  18. Roberta, Congrats! You are so deserving! So happy you were there when I first started my genealogy quest in 2012. I am serious when I say, you will next have a Wikipedia page.

  19. Well deserced but if LOC really wanted to help future generations, they’d archive your time management approach. I know everyone gets 24 h but with genealogy, frequent informative blogging, quilting…? I understand you every shower, eat, and clean house. Amazing. You are an inspiration, albeit a mystery.

    • Thank you. Mostly, I work and I don’t do things like watch TV unless it’s something special. Cleaning house is my least favorite thing possible. 😁

  20. What a great honour! So pleased for you and for future genealogists. You were the first blog we followed when we first tested in 2017.

  21. Congratulations! I have been a reader of your blog since one of your 52 Ancestors posts helped me in researching the Younger family in Virginia.

  22. Brilliant! This system doesn’t allow for those cute emojis of champagne, party hats and the like, but that’s all I would say.
    So next – honorary doctoral degrees? Who is going to be first?

  23. Congratulations!! This is such an honor for you and an invaluable resource for all. Thank you for ALL your contributions to genealogy and genetic genealogy and your willingness to share.

    • Sorry for the writing, I meant Bravo! Good decision.

      That’s what happens when you leave your text in the hands of the automatic corrector on you iPad while not seeing the entire text box.

  24. Congratulations! This is truly a powerful testament to your labor of love and service to so many people. Your shared discoveries and family stories have often been an emotional and very touching journey for me and I am certain, your other readers, too. Thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do..

  25. What an honor and so well deserved. I love your articles, which sometimes bring me to tears. Your research is truly an inspiration, so well done and presented. You go girl!

  26. I am so proud and I wasn’t even the one the who wrote it. Truly an honor. Must have blown your mind. Congrats!

  27. Congratulations! Well deserved as the others said! ^_^

    It’s true that this blog is a mirror to the era where genetic genealogy move from a niche hobby into a mainstream tool. But there are also entries about everyday topics, past and present, which may feel insignificant to us, but could be a good window into our state of mind, for scholars in the future.

    In the end, sometimes, procrastination is the right course of action! xD
    From now on, remember that people 200 years from now are also reading you!

    • Ummm, I never thought about it that way exactly. They will probably wonder about our speech patterns and such.

  28. Congratulations, Roberta! I am so excited that your Blog will be preserved in the Library of Congress! The advanced study for maternal lineage, that you did for me, through FamilyTreedna has opened a world of information about my Mother’s heritage and I am forever grateful for your work.

  29. I am very much enouraged by the fact the the LoC has shown such wonderful sense in archiving your blog. You are a national treasure, Roberta. Keep on keeping on, and congraturlations!

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